On one hand, this series continues to showcase plenty of cool ideas and images that make it well worth reading. Harry Daghlian’s transformation from man to irradiated skeleton. Enrico Fermi winding up on the business end of Albert Einstein’s chainsaw. JFK as a paranoid anti-communist coke fiend. The war of the Infinite Oppenheimers. Between the existing plot threads and Jonathan Hickman’s re-casting of previous scenes in a new light, you can sit back and enjoy the book on its subplots alone. Things only get better when you consider Nick Pitarra’s typically strong artwork, and the surreal Oppenheimer warfare rendered by guest artist Ryan “God Hates Astronauts” Browne.
On the other, it’s a good thing that the subplots are so interesting because I’m starting to wonder where “The Manhattan Projects” is going. The main thread seems to be Oppenheimer’s machinations, yet there’s so much else going on here that it doesn’t get a whole lot of momentum going in this volume. While Hickman is known for his meticulously planned-out stories, it feels like he’s testing himself to see how many subplots he can throw in before the narrative buckles under the weight of it all. It hasn’t yet, but unless we get some of that forward momentum going on them it’ll happen soon. The title does remain, for now, one of the most distinctive and demented series out there.